Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History

Dr. Katerina Douka

Kahlaische Strasse 10

07745 Jena



Dr. Katerina Douka

Dr. Katerina Douka

Dr. Katerina Douka

Main Focus

Katerina’s work traverses the interface of analytical science and archaeological enquiry; some recurrent research themes include :
  • time in archaeology and anthropology
  • developments in radiometric dating and chronological precision (14C and Bayesian statistics);
  • application of combined scientific methodologies (peptide mass fingerprinting, aDNA, stable isotopes) to major archaeological questions;
  • the spatiotemporal pattern of early human dispersals and extinctions across Eurasia, whether these concern Neanderthals, Denisovans or modern humans;
  • early hominin adaptation to diverse environments, from the temperate Mediterranean coasts to the tropical forests of southeast Asia; 
  • the spread of the Neolithic around the Mediterranean (e.g. Early Neolithic Greece).

Curriculum Vitae

Katerina Douka joined the MPI-SHH in June 2017 as Group Leader at the Department of Archaeology. She brings with her a 5-year, €2M ERC Starting Grant, running between 2017-2022, with the acronym FINDER (Fossil Fingerprinting and Identification of New Denisovan remains from Pleistocene Asia).

Katerina studied at the University of Oxford where she obtained two degrees in Archaeological Science (MSc: 2006, DPhil: 2011). Prior to this, she read for a Bachelor in Archaeological Conservation in her native Greece. Her doctoral research revolved around the timing of early modern human expansion in southern Europe and the eventual demise of the Neanderthals. For this work she was awarded the 15th Tubingen Prize for Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology.

Between 2011-2017 she worked as a postdoc researcher in two major projects: AHOB focusing on the dating  of the Gravettian expansion across Europe, and the ERC-funded PalaeoChron project during which over 800 new AMS dates were produced from ~100 sites across Eurasia.

In 2013 she held a Junior Research Fellowship at the British School of Athens for a project investigating the onset of the Neolithic across the Aegean and was Linacre College's Fellow for 3 years. She is  currently the William Golding Junior Research Fellow at Brasenose College, University of Oxford.  


Katerina has co-authored to date over 50 research articles and book chapters. A selection appears below:

Bae, C., Douka, K., Petraglia, M. 2017. On the origin of modern humans: Asian Perspectives. Science 358, 1269.

Douka, K
., Higham, T. 2017. The chronological factor in understanding the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic of Eurasia. Current Anthropology 58(S17): S480-S490.

Bae, C., Douka, K., Petraglia, M. 2017 (Eds) Human Colonization of Asia in the Late Pleistocene. Current Anthropology Special Issue 58: S17.

Douka, K., Slon, V., Stringer, C., Potts, R., Hübner, A., Meyer, M., Spoor, F., Pääbo, S., Higham, T. 2017. Direct radiocarbon dating and DNA analysis of the Darra-i-Kur (Afghanistan) human temporal bone. Journal of Human Evolution 107: 86-93. 

Douka, K., Efstratiou, N., Hald, M., Henriksen, P., & Karetsou, A. 2017. Dating Knossos and the arrival of the earliest Neolithic in the southern Aegean. Antiquity 91(356): 304-321. 

Becerra-Valdivia, L., Douka, K., Comeskey, D., Bazgir, B., Conard, N. J., Marean, C. W., Ollé, A., Otte, M., Tumung, L., Zeidi, M. & Higham, T.F.G. 2017. Chronometric investigations of the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition in the Zagros Mountains using AMS radiocarbon dating and Bayesian age modelling. Journal of Human Evolution 109: 57–69.

Douka, K. 2017. Radiocarbon dating of marine and terrestrial shell, in Allen, M.J. (ed) Molluscs in Archaeology: methods, approaches and applications. Studying Scientific Archaeology 3. Oxbow Books, pp. 381-389.

Proctor, C., Douka, K., Proctor, J.W. and Higham, T. 2017. The Age and Context of the KC4 Maxilla, Kent’s Cavern, UK. European Journal of Archaeology 20(1): 74–97. 

Brown, S., Higham, T., Slon, V., Pääbo, S., Meyer, M., Douka, K., Brock, F., Comeskey, D., Procopio, N., Shunkov, M., Derevianko, A., Buckley, M. 2016. Identification of a new hominin bone from Denisova Cave, Siberia using collagen fingerprinting and mitochondrial DNA analysis. Nature Scientific Reports 6: 23559. 

Douka, K., Bergman, K., Higham, T.F.G. 2015. Statistical and archaeological errors invalidate the proposed chronology for the site of Ksar Akil. PNAS USA 112 (51): E7034. 

Higham, C.F.W., Douka, K., Higham, T.F.G. 2015. A New Chronology for the Bronze Age of Northeastern Thailand and Its Implications for Southeast Asian Prehistory. PLoS ONE 10(9): e0137542.  

Higham, T.F.G., Douka, K., Wood, R., Bronk Ramsey, C., Brock, F., et al. 2014. The timing and spatio-temporal patterning of Neanderthal disappearance. Nature 512: 306–309

Douka, K., Grün, R., Jacobs, Z., Lane, C., Farr, L., Hunt, C., Inglis, R.H., Reynolds, T., Albert, P., Aubert, M., Cullen, V., Hill, E., Kinsley, L., Roberts, R.G., Tomlinson, E.L., Wulf, S., Barker, G. 2014. The chronostratigraphy of the Haua Fteah cave (Cyrenaica, northeast Libya). Journal of Human Evolution 66: 39–63.  

Douka, K., Higham, T.F.G., Wood, R., Boscato, P., Gambassini, P., Karkanas, P., Peresani, M., Ronchitelli, A. 2014. On the chronology of the Uluzzian. Journal of Human Evolution 68: 1-13.

Douka, K. 2013.  
Exploring “the great wilderness of prehistory”: The chronology of the Middle to the Upper Palaeolithic transition in the northern Levant. Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Urgeschichte 22: 11–40.

DoukaK., Bergman, C.A., Hedges, R.E.M., Wesselingh, F.P., Higham, T.F.G. 2013. Chronology of Ksar Akil (Lebanon) and implications for the colonization of Europe by anatomically modern humans. PLoS ONE 8(9): e72931.  

Douka, K. and Spinapolice, E. 2012. Neanderthal shell tool production: Evidence from Italy and Greece, Journal of World Prehistory, 25 (2): 45-79. 

DoukaK., Grimaldi, S., Boschian, G., del Lucchese, A., Higham, T.F.G. 2012. A new chronostratigraphic framework for the Upper Palaeolithic of Riparo Mochi (Italy). Journal of Human Evolution 62 (2): 286–299. 

Wood, R.E., Douka, K., Boscato, P., Haesaerts, P., Sinitsyn, A., Higham, T.F.G. 2012. Testing the ABOx-SC method: dating known age charcoals associated with the Campanian Ignimbrite. Quaternary Geochronology 9: 16–26.  

DoukaK., Perlès, C., Valladas, H., Vanhaeren, M., Hedges, R.E.M. 2011. Franchthi Cave revisited: the age of the Aurignacian in south-eastern Europe. Antiquity 85 (330): 1131–1150.

Benazzi, S., DoukaK., Fornai, C., Bauer, C.C., et al. 2011. Early dispersal of modern humans in Europe and implications for Neanderthal behaviour. Nature 479 (7374): 525–528.

Douka, K. 2011. An Upper Palaeolithic shell scraper from Ksar Akil (Lebanon). Journal of Archaeological Science 38 (2): 429-437.

Higham, C., Higham, T., Ciarla, R., DoukaK., Kijngam, A., Rispoli, F. 2011. The Origins of the Bronze Age of Southeast Asia. Journal of World Prehistory 24 (4), 227-274. 

Douka K., Hedges R.E.M., Higham T.F.G. 2010. Improved AMS 14C dating of shell carbonates using high-precision X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) and a novel density separation protocol (CarDS). Radiocarbon 52 (2): 735-751.

Douka, K., Sinitsyn A., Higham T. 2010. The influence of pretreatment chemistry on the radiocarbon dating of Campanian Ignimbrite-aged charcoal from Kostenki 14 (Russia). Quaternary Research 73: 583-587.

Organizational Unit (Department, Group, Facility):

  • Department of Archaeology
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